Fitba Crazy Week Eight – St Johnstone
Welcome along to the eighth in our weekly series of Fitba Crazy, a celebration of good old fashioned terrace banter and a chance for fans north of the border to test their tartan trivia.
We’ll be taking you around the grounds, stopping off to chat with fans of all 42 SPFL clubs.
How much do supporters in Scotland really know about their clubs and the national team?
We’re going to find out as we get closer to the fans across all four divisions of the SPFL.
The man in demand this week is Jamie Beatson as he tells us about his beloved St Johnstone. He travels the country and abroad to follow his team, as well as being one of the top dogs over at the We Are Perth fans’ forum.
He’s been sharing with us his passion for the Saints and testing his knowledge of all things ‘fitba’…
– Describe your club in three words? Small, stable, superb.
– Any pre-match superstitions? I’m quite bad for this. I always have to wear exactly the same stuff – especially if we’ve won the week before – and always shave on the morning of the match.
– Best away day and why? I always make a point of going to the two Dundee grounds – though it’s hardly an away “day” when I actually live a shorter drive from them than McDiarmid Park!
For an actual day out, however, I’m a big fan of Tynecastle. Plenty of pre-match drinking options, a superb atmosphere tight in on the park and – for whatever reason – we seem to get a decent game down there more often than not. Even on the first day of this season we walked away fairly happy despite being on the wrong end of a 4-3 thriller.
– What is the funniest thing you have witnessed at a football match? I think in terms of outright laughs there was a game a number of years back at McDiarmid Park – I forget who we were even playing – in the First Division where erstwhile right-back Andy Lawrie went to take a throw-in in an attacking position about 30 yards from goal, right in front of my seat in the East Stand.
He stepped back, totally focussed on finding a team-mate to build an attack. Unfortunately, he was blissfully unaware of the advertising hoarding just off the park – and we could see the inevitable coming. Straight over it he went, backwards, ball flying away and Lawrie crashing on to his back. Even though he was one of our own, it was hilarious.
A close second to that was around the same time when an exasperated Dick “The Bunnet” Campbell, then I think managing Partick Thistle, lost the plot at what he perceived to be a poor decision. As you would, if you were the owner of a flatcap, he ripped it from his head and slammed it in to the ground in a fit of pique. Brilliant.
– Best and worst player you have witnessed in your club’s shirt? It’s actually harder to pick out the worst than the best because we’ve had some absolute shockers in recent times. My number one worst has to be a guy called Jordan Tait, who played for us in the bad days a few years back when we finished eighth in the First Division under John Connolly. He was a defender who was widely known amongst the fans as “Jordan’s Tits” – and was about as good at football as they are.
Older fans than me will hark back to the days of John Connolly and Henry Hall for their number one player.
That’s before my time – and although someone my age would go for Sergei Baltacha I don’t really remember him in a Saints shirt either, which is unfortunate.
Luckily I’ve been going week in week out throughout a couple of excellent spells where we’ve had strong teams full of good players – the likes of Dasovic, O’Neill and Kernaghan in the late 90s and the new breed of players like Stevie May, Steven Maclean and Michael O’Halloran who have represented us in the last couple of seasons.
However, the best player that I’ve seen has to be Alan Main – our goalkeeper in the team that finished third in 1998/99, reaching the UEFA Cup and getting to the League Cup final. He was capable of moments of absolute brilliance – game changing saves, none more so than the header he somehow tipped over in a win over Dundee that got us into Europe that year. It’s a scandal he never played for Scotland.
– Why is your club better than every other club?
The story of our game in the last 20 years has been marred by gross financial management at clubs like Dundee, Gretna, Livingston, Motherwell and Rangers. Geoff Brown was pilloried for his financial prudence in the 90s and early 2000s – refusing to spend money we didn’t have the way so many others weren’t. We suffered, badly, and spent seven long years in Division One, even cruelly being pipped to promotion by Gretna with the last kick of the season while we prepared to celebrate a title triumph in Hamilton.
But now we’re seeing the fruits of it. While other clubs are going through major readjustments, we’ve got a seven-figure sum in the bank and a superb team on the park. We’re going through a golden age, repeatedly qualifiying for Europe and winning our first ever Scottish Cup. We’ve been the model for the rest of Scottish football since we left Muirton Park in the 80s and I think everyone is starting to realise that now.
– What’s the single best thing about Scottish football?
For the most part the game in Scotland is full of friendly rivalries. Take out the poison of the Old Firm and even the fiercest local rivals will share a drink and a laugh afterwards.
Everyone knows our game isn’t of the same standard as the big European leagues – it couldn’t possibly be – but we should be celebrating what is good about it. Generally if you want to go to an away game you won’t travel much more than an hour to get to it.
You usually get a good welcome from the locals – at places like Fir Park, Victoria Park and Rugby Park we’re usually welcomed into their own pubs within the ground and the banter flies back and forth. It’s a great community to be part of.
– Side you enjoy beating the most and why?
You’d expect me to say Dundee – that’s the obvious choice – but for me it’s their next door neighbours, Dundee United. My best mate is an Arab, I know a few others as well, and we’ve tended to be in closer competition with them than Dundee in the last few years. There have also been some important wins over them to seal top six places (and the small matter of the Scottish Cup) along the way.
– Best chant you have heard on the terraces?
Not a chant as such, but the best shout I heard was at Motherwell a long way back – before we were even relegated last time. The ref was Kevin Toner, he was having a bit of a nightmare and one of the more verbose members of the crowd – known for his almost pre-scripted rants – shouted: “I’ve seen more decisive Toner in my photocopier.” You can’t beat that.
– Which player from your division would you like in your team?
There are very few in the current Saints team I’d want to replace – but I’d gladly take a talisman like Kris Commons at McDiarmid Park. It astounds me that he’s not always in Ronny Deila’s team at Celtic.
– What’s the most memorable game you’ve been to?
There can be only one answer for a St Johnstone fan. May 17 2014, Celtic Park, St Johnstone v Dundee United, the final of the Scottish Cup.
What an occasion, what a team, what a victory. 15,000 Saints fans – the biggest turn out ever – roaring on our team to a richly deserved victory. My abiding memory of the match isn’t the goals though – it was looking at the scoreboard every 30 seconds for most of the second-half wondering just how it was that time had stood still.
The 38 minutes between the second half-kicking off and Steven Maclean’s clincher dragged and dragged – but the feeling when his goal hit the net and we knew we were pretty much there for our first ever major trophy was indescribable.
– Match Day Pie of choice – Scotch, Mince or Steak?
Steak. Always steak, especially at McDiarmid Park where there’s fairly regularly a steak and chorizo option – sensational.
And here’s the quiz…
1. St Johnstone sealed the First Division title, and a return to the Premier League, with a 3-1 win against which club in 2009, and who were the Saints scorers on the day?
Jamie: Morton, scorers were Hardie and Milne CORRECT!
2. Veteran striker John Sutton has played for five other Scottish clubs, name them?
Jamie: Hearts, St Mirren, Motherwell, Dundee and Killie WRONG! So close, the fifth team was Raith
3. St Johnstone knocked out which giant of German football in the opening round of the 1971/72 UEFA Cup campaign?
Jamie: Hamburg CORRECT!
4. Name any of the three clubs gaffer Tommy Wright managed before taking over at McDiarmid Park?
Jamie: Lisburn Distillery, hope that’s right as my missus is from Northern Ireland… CORRECT! You are safe, the other two were Ballymena and Limavady
5. Name three of the four full Canadian internationals that have played for the Saints?
Jamie: Nick Dasovic, Marcus Haber and Davide Xausa CORRECT! The one you were missing was Colin Miller
Scottish Football Section
6. Which is the only Scottish club outside the Old Firm to have broken the million pound barrier in signing a player? (Bonus 1/2 point on offer if you can name him)
Jamie: Aberdeen and it was Paul Bernard (He went on to play for the Saints) CORRECT!
7. Which Scottish manager is currently in charge at English League Two side Yeovil Town?
Jamie: Paul Sturrock CORRECT!
8. Which Scottish League club play their home matches at Shielfield Park?
Jamie: Berwick Rangers CORRECT!
9. I won 57 caps for Scotland, and I was nicknamed ‘The Bear’. I played nearly 500 times for Celtic, but also also had spells with for Newcastle, St Mirren and Aberdeen who I also managed…who am I?
Jamie: Is it Mark McGhee? WRONG! It was Roy Aitken
10. There have only been two seasons when a non-Old Firm player has finished top scorer in SPL history, can you name the two players and the teams they played for?
Jamie: Stevie May and Scott McDonald WRONG! It was Michael Higdon and Adam Rooney
Jamie: Stephen Thompson CORRECT!
Jamie: Paul Gallagher CORRECT!
Jamie: No Idea WRONG! It is Maurice Ross
Jamie: I’m stumped, but I love the kit! WRONG! It is Allan Johnston
Jamie’s total score: 10.5/15
A top effort from Jamie Beatson there as there were some tough questions thrown in this week, and it’s yet another double figure finish from our expert fans. Did you do any better?
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